There are many important aspects to be a good putter, confidence, focus, set-up/address position, grip, green reading, club face alignment, constant tempo, feel, visualization, and speed control.One important factor that should be near the top of the list is club face alignment at address. Club face alignment is important, because the golf ball needs to role end over end at the target. If the club face is not aligned properly at address there is good chance the club face will not come back square to the target line. A player has an instinct about where the target is located and will make changes in putting motion to try to hit the ball to the target. If the club face is not aligned properly at address many compensations are made to accomplish the task.
Through my instruction I find most players do not focus on this aspect of putting, and without a doubt it is the hardest part of putting to get correct consistently. Club face alignment is difficult because the target is so small and precise, and sometimes our eyes deceive us. Green reading is a very complex issue, but let us assume the line a golfer picks is the correct line based on the speed he is trying to hit the golf ball. For example, a 20 foot putt breaks 3 inches right to left, how do we pick a target to align the face? The targetline is the middle of the golf ball to the target three inches right of the hole. We must get spot on the target line 6-12 inches in front of the golf ball. This helps us align the putter club face square to the line. Many putter heads have an alignment tool on the top of the putter head that assists in aligning the putter face at address. We get the spot on the ground 6-12 inches in front of the golf ball to help visualize the target line while we are addressing the golf ball. While addressing the golf ball align the face with this imaginary target line. If this sounds simple, it is not. It takes work to perfect this method and make it part of the golfer’s routine. Also, many golfers find it better to use a line on the ball to align it with the target line. This is a good guide as long as the golfer feels comfortable with the process.
Club face alignment affects club path, speed control, address position, and club face at impact. In my experience the better the club face alignment the better the putter, always exceptions to the rule.
The pictures attached are teaching aids that can help with club face alignment of the putter head. The simplest way, without buying a teaching aid, is to take a pitching wedge and sand wedge, put them both parallel to the target line,a little wider apart than the length of the putter head, and on opposite sides of the ball. This will give a visual of the target line and a tunnel to putt through.
The pictures where David Leadbetter is using a string to help with his club face alignment is the best tool that I have had the pleasure of using in my lessons. I have seen below average putters use this type of string and make five footers like a tour pro. More proof of how much club face alignment matters. Take it away and they start missing more than not. The more a golfer has the correct club face alignment with the string the better his alignment becomes without the string. This technique makes correct alignment feel comfortable. This teaching aid can be bought online or made with a couple of products from Home Depot. Use a guide or teaching aid to help confirm your club face alignment is accurate in every putting practice session.
Go see your local PGA Professional to work on your putter club face alignment at address and impact.
Todd Elliott is the PGA Head Golf Professional for Hideaway Beach. Todd is TPI (Titleist Performance Institute) Certified as a golf professional. This gives him the ability to give golf specific physical screening to detect any physical limitation that might affect the golf swing. Todd is also a Coutour-certified putting fitter, a Titlteist-certified fitter and a Titliest staff member. Follow Todd on Twitter @elliottgolfpro or for any question or comments email firstname.lastname@example.org.